Ronon had thought it wasn't a big deal. He'd promised himself he wouldn't get worked up about it, but the sight of McKay, sitting there in the mess hall, eating his damn blue jello just reignited Ronon's annoyance.

McKay didn't look up as he approached.

"You took my painting."

Rodney looked startled and confused. "What?"

Dropping his tray onto the table, Ronon sat down across from McKay and tried to look as intimidating as possible. What right did McKay have to help himself to his things?

"I gave it back."

Rodney tried to defend himself as he messed around with his food. He looked guilty.

"Teyla gave it back," Ronon pointed out.

"Well, I asked her to."

"I never said you could take it." Maybe if Rodney had asked instead of just taking, if he'd thought about someone other than himself for once. He saw Rodney's anger grow at the accusation, but he didn't care. He wanted to hear how McKay would try to talk his way out this one.

Rodney threw the jello down, splashing it across both trays. "You got the damn thing back. What more do you want?" And then he stood and shoved his tray into Ronon's.

Ronon barely kept the trays of food from dumping all over him as Rodney left. His own anger intensified. He didn't need this from McKay. He wasn't going to just sit and take it either. Leaving the food, Ronon followed Rodney only to miss him in the transporter. Where was McKay going? Ronon decided to start with Rodney's lab. It was close by- only a quick jog from the mess.If he wasn't there, Dex knew it wouldn't take long to hunt the man down.

Jogging through the halls, Ronon tried to suppress the memories of the mission even as he sped up, his urgency growing. He could hear the p-90 fire and remembered the feeling in his gut when he knew his team was in trouble. He'd had to help, leaving his fellow Satedans behind. It hadn't been enough. He couldn't even begin to describe the feelings of being torn between his people and his team…his family.

He started to pass the transporter closest to McKay's lab when he saw that McKay was still inside, his face covered. There was something pathetic about the sight, but Ronon's anger kept him from caring much.

"What the hell's your problem, McKay?" He enjoyed the initial frightened reaction from Rodney.

"Don't do that!" McKay's frown refueled his anger, burying the other hurts.

"I asked you a question." He stepped just into the transporter's entrance, wanting to make Rodney feel trapped.

"Get out of my way." Rodney started forward, but Ronon pinned him back with a light shove. It'd be so easy to just let go on McKay, to unleash all of his anger, but he held himself in check. This was Rodney.

"I asked you a question," he repeated instead.

McKay scowled up at him. "I don't have a problem. Get out of my way."

Not gonna happen, Ronon thought as he crossed his arm. "No."

"Ronon." McKay looked suddenly weary. "I don't have time for this."

"Make time." Ronon nearly spit the words out before he caved in and let Rodney leave. He watched closely as Rodney imitated his own stiff posture. Was McKay shaking? Was he really that afraid of him?

"Why'd you take my painting?" Ronon tried to keep his voice calm, but he wanted an answer. He wanted the truth.

"Oh for pete's sake." McKay threw his arms up dramatically. "Will you let it go? I gave the damn thing back."

"I never said you could have it." He watched McKay's face turn red.

"Do we really need to have this exact conversation again? Are you trying to be this stupid?"

Stepping into the transporter now, Ronon recognized McKay's harsh rant for what it was, an attempt to get him to back off.

"My God, you really are a Neanderthal aren't you?" McKay was shouting, but Ronon stayed put. "Yes, yes. I took your ugly painting without your damn permission. Are you happy now?" He jabbed Ronon's chest. It hurt and Ronon growled threateningly. There was only so much he would take, even from McKay.

"But you sure as hell weren't planning on coming back anyway so I figured it didn't matter. You don't get to be all pissed off about it!" He stepped forward.

"You. Weren't. Coming. Back."

He watched McKay deflate in front of him. He recognized the shadow of grief play over Rodney's face and realized the truth with sudden clarity. He'd hurt McKay.

He'd talked to Teyla and he'd talked to Sheppard about his struggle to decide what to do…but he had never considered McKay. He hadn't thought about if it would even affect Rodney to have him leave and suddenly he knew…it would.

He'd been so selfish.

Anger melted into his own guilt and hurt.

"McKay." His throat felt like it was filled with sand. He wanted to take the pain he'd caused. He wanted to grasp Rodney's shoulder, but he let his hand fall. Instead of reaching out, he met Rodney's gaze.

There was a long moment of silence before Rodney's eyes widened. He cleared his throat. "Look." McKay sounded almost normal and Ronon wondered for a second if it was real. "I-I'm sorry I took your painting without asking if it was okay with you first." His eyes flicked down to the floor and then he looked up again. "It won't happen again."

Ronon nodded, unsure if he could actually say the words he wanted to. Instead he reached out again and this time made contact with McKay's shoulder. "No." He squeezed lightly, "It won't." He willed Rodney to understand what he couldn't seem to say.

I won't leave again- not by choice. Please believe in me. I'm staying. I'm home.

He stepped back so Rodney could leave now, trying to figure out if he could or even should try one more time.


Rodney stopped and turned back toward him. "Yeah?"

"Why did you want the painting?" He tried to keep the question non-threatening. He just needed to know. Why was his painting so important to McKay? What did the scientist see in it?

Rodney looked slightly embarrassed before he shrugged.

"It was yours."